DALLAS -- Under heavy fire after he pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws, Oklahoma's embattled Gov. David Walters said yesterday that he will not seek reelection next year.
In a prepared statement, Walters, 41, said he would not run for the governor's post again because he and his family decided that it was not in their best interests.
"It has been costly to our family, and we are concerned, obviously, about the cost to us in the future," said Walters, who has served as governor since 1991.
The announcement caps weeks of speculation about Walters' political future, speculation that escalated last month when press reports emerged on his secret grandjury indictment in September for alleged campaign law violations.
During a late-night court hearing on Oct. 21, Walters entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor count of accepting political campaign contributions that exceeded the legal limit. In exchange for the plea, eight felony charges brought by the grand jury were dismissed as well six perjury and two conspiracy charges. The agreement allowed him to continue in office and run again.
But the plea bargain unleashed a storm of criticism in Oklahoma. Some people have said governor should have been forced to resign and got off too light with a $1,000 fine and a one-year deferred sentence. He also was ordered to pay $135,000 to the state Ethics Commission from his campaign funds.
Among other things, Walters was charged with accepting contributions from individuals and corporations that exceeded the $5,000 legal limit.